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Chikako Fukuyama, Lead Actress for Lady Samurai Q&A

So to start off, please introduce yourself and share some of your career moments that you’re most proud of.


Chikako: Most people know me from the Netflix breakout hit Terrace House: Aloha State. But not many people know about how my career started with NHK World here in Japan.  But recently, I was in Blade of Ronin 47, where I honed my skills as a woman warrior, before being cast in Juror No. 2 and Lady Samurai this year. 


Now as it relates to Lady Samurai, what attracted you to this project and what excites you most about it? Is there any aspect of Lady Samurai or the history around Tomoe Gozen that you can’t wait to see represented on screen?


Chikako: I actually can’t think of a better role for me to play. You may even call her my own personal spirit guide and role model for courage and strength. It’s a privilege to be such a historical figure.


As an actress, how do you approach developing a character that is based on a historical figure?


Chikako: I try to find an emotional connection between myself and the character. For example with Tomoe, I am always looking deep within to find strength in moments where I need to be strong. I imagine that she felt the same way at times. This helps me connect with her. 

Once you find a place in your heart, then the role is much easier to embrace.


In recent years, you’ve gotten to work on some pretty exciting projects. You’ve recently been working on Juror No. 2, which is directed by Clint Eastwood and written by Jonathan Abrams. Could you reflect on that experience and share some details about what role you’re playing in it?


Chikako: I am very excited about Juror No. 2. I can’t believe that Clint chose me to be in his next film. It was an unbelievable experience to work with such an amazing cast under the direction of Eastwood. I play one of the jurors in the film, but you will need to see it when it releases soon. It’s really better to experience it first-hand. I can’t wait to see it in theaters!


Building off some of your recent roles and success, what specifically made you interested the role of Tomoe Gozen in Lady Samurai?


Chikako: I thoroughly enjoyed playing Aya in Blade of the 47 Ronin. I found strength in myself as a person and an actor. This was inspiring to me so I was ready to embrace Tomoe completely.


Was it as simple as it being the lead role or given that you yourself are Japanese, did you find it extremely compelling to get to play a Japanese historical figure?


Chikako: Yes. Absolutely. Growing up in Japan with our deeply rooted culture and having such a strong desire to bring our culture to the rest of the world as a woman, I am very compelled to play this role, but to also honor Japan in the best way I can. 


Generally, how do you go about evaluating a role or acting opportunity? What are the traits or qualities you personally look for in characters? What are your hopes or aspirations for how Lady Samurai is received by audiences?:


Chikako: I am always looking for characters who are strong women with Japanese influences. My hope is to play strong roles that help to inspire young women everywhere to believe in themselves. I hope they will see my work and realize that they can do whatever they set their mind to, and that they can be anyone they choose to be, because if the characters I portray can be an inspiration then I can feel good about my little contribution to the world.


Any lessons you hope they take from it? If there’s anything I missed or anything you’d like to add, please do so here:

Chikako: Throughout our history in Japan, and around the world, women have always been strong influences to culture. The lesson is that we cannot forget about this. Women have power and help to guide our destiny.